Luke 10 - Missions Sunday
Welcome to Missions Sunday Community Church,
Let me begin by acknowledging that Community Church loves to give to missions. 31 percent of our yearly operating budget goes to missions: locally, nationally and around the world. Next year we will be sending out almost $57,500.00 to missions related ministries and individuals. This is wonderful! And what is even better is that it is the heart of this church to continue to give even more towards good gospel focused, Christ exalting and Scripture loving ministries in the future.
Having said this, can I just say that this is the easiest part that we can do towards missions. It is easy to transfer money from one bank to another and to only support a missionary in this way. It is appreciated by the missionary but what they need, and what they desire even more, is that churches would support them by fervent prayer and through encouragement, fellowship and friendship. Glenn Hershberger who was a missionary in a foreign land said this weekend that he valued these things more than anything because doing missions work is hard on the pastor and his family and without it they could not do it.
Today, we are here to spend some time connecting with a portion of the ministers and ministries that we support as a church. We are also going to challenge you to take a next step in your support. We want to challenge you to commit to praying and connecting with some of our missionaries for the year. We want you to adopt them like you would a Compassion Child. Call them, text them, send them things, pray for them.
We want to not only be challenged as individuals but as a corporate body to consider what our next step is for us together. We are always supporting lots of church plants but is the Lord calling us to pray about starting a church through Community Church into a neighboring community? Are there future ministers and missionaries in this church who will be raised up and sent out from within our fellowship? Oh, I pray that this will happen more and more.
The text that I would like to look at today as we get started is in Luke 10. I only have time to touch on a couple of points. First, look at Luke 10:1. It says, “After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of Him, two by two, into every town and place where He Himself was about to go.”
Let me make a couple quick points. First, consider the opening words, ‘After this…’. Something has just happened to Jesus before He decides to pick seventy-two of His disciples and send them out. I wonder if something great has happened that has inspired Jesus to do this?
No, actually something potentially discouraging and deflating has happened. In Luke 9:57-62 Jesus has interacted with three individuals about following Him and it does not appear to have gone well. Two of the three individuals approach Jesus and show some desire to follow Him. But one of the guys does not seem to really appreciate how difficult this will be for him. Jesus has to give Him a dose of reality by saying, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”
The other individual wants to go and say good-bye to his family. Jesus says to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”
The third individual is approached by Jesus and he is invited to follow Christ. This man seems to want to come but he wants to return home to bury his dad. To this man Jesus says, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”
Now, in all fairness, the text does not tell us if these people followed after Jesus or not. Wouldn’t it be great if they did? Yet, part of me thinks that they did not. I conclude this because of Luke 10:2 which says, “The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few. Pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest field.” The disciples probably now have two motivations to pray earnestly. First, they see how impossible it is for people to follow Christ without the Lord of the Harvest doing it. They need spiritual power so they need to pray. Secondly, they are motivated because they have heard Jesus say that the harvest is plentiful. Jesus will tell them that ministry will be difficult but it will be empowered by God.
The harvest is vast but the laborers are few. The harvest is ready but so many have a responsibility that holds them back. The harvest is ready but everyone has their own plan for their life. The harvest is ready but so few appreciate the toil, work, the labor, the inconvenience that it will necessitate so they won’t last long in the mission. The harvest is great but few overcome the fear in them. The harvest is great but everyone reserves the right to have an out when the going gets tough. The harvest is ripe but so many have an excuse to not follow Jesus in His mission. The harvest is plentiful but we have to begin with prayer.
I don’t know if these men followed Jesus or not. But let’s be real for a moment and admit that so few will follow him today for the same reasons these men had. So many are inspired in a moment to follow Jesus but when they return home, return to their friends, return to their routine they are never seen again.
I want you to notice Luke 10:1 again, “After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of Him, two by two, into every town and place where He Himself was about to go.”
Right after these conversations with these men Jesus does something amazing. He gathers seventy-two disciples and sends them out. Ministry will go on with or without these people. If these discussions did not go well, and these men did not follow Jesus, we see here that Jesus did not draw back on ministry; rather He expanded it. Jesus will use those who are willing and ready.
Now some might look at these seventy-two individuals and say, “Jesus doesn’t need me!” Or they may say, “There is no place for me to serve here.” Or they may say, “There are so many other gifted people in that group that Jesus couldn’t possibly use me.” In this way, these excuses are no different than those we heard in Luke 9:57-62. They are things that we tell ourselves that will quite possibly keep us from following Christ.
Far from not being needed, the opposite may be true. Consider something with me for a moment. What if Jesus could have done more if he had more? Jesus picked these seventy-two disciples and sent them out to all the towns that He would be going. But what if he had more people willing to be sent and go? Would Jesus send them to more towns, to more villages, to more places?
One thing is for sure, Jesus knew that the harvest was plentiful. And He knew that the laborers were few. Jesus sends out the seventy-two with a charge. He tells them to pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest that He would send laborers out into the fields.
This is where it all begins – earnest prayer to the Lord of the Harvest. We have been going through the book of 1 John and last week we just were told that we could ask for anything according to God’s will and He would hear us. And if He hears us then we know that we have received from Him what we have asked for. Today we have just learned that it is the will of the Father to send out laborers into the harvest field so that the Son might be glorified and that the field which is plentiful might be harvested.
Community Church, thank you for giving to missions. Thank you for praying for our missionaries every week. But is there another step you could take? Begin with prayer. Pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest so that he can send others. And pray so that He can prod your heart to be more engaged in these things. We need to pray earnestly so that He can overcome our excuses and so that we can go forward boldly in this increasingly hostile world. (10-12)
Throughout this morning allow the Holy Spirit to work in your heart. Pray earnestly that they Lord would:
send out laborers from this church.
Pray that you would accept the call to follow Christ into what He has called you too.
Pray for our next step together: church plant, or sending out a missionary or pastor from here.
Pray to see if God would move your heart to be a rope holder.
Pray for wisdom to discern which of our missionaries you will adopt for the next year. God will use you to encourage and strengthen those who need it so much.
Community Church, this passage has helped me. I do not think that i have done a good job of communicating this need to you. We really do need more rope holders who will personally support our missionaries over the next year.
As a result of this situation I had determined that we probably should not join with any new ministers or ministries this year. Being connected with our missionaries is so important to us (and to them) I assumed that we should not take on anymore. This text, however, has challenged me. Jesus did not slow down his ministry in this moment; rather, He seemed to be more determined and more committed to going forward.
Like Jesus we need to call people to follow Jesus. Some will be able to be rope holders and some may not. But there is probably some step that each of us could take and we all need to seriously consider what it should be.
Like Jesus we should not be discouraged if the laborers seem so few. We should see that the harvest is plentiful, pray earnestly, and do something to honor Christ. Maybe there is wisdom in making sure that we never outgrow our ability to really care for our missionaries. This must be our goal and our priority. We want to receive them and let the peace of God be upon us. But even if this is the case, we must pray to determine this and still be willing at anytime to do something more if God leads us to do so.
I pray that the testimonies that you are about to hear will be a blessing to you and that God will unite your heart to these missionaries in a new and profound way. God bless, Pastor Chris